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imagination, intelligence and integrity

Upon watching my video ‘Linking IDENTITY to INTENTION,” Rose, a friend, asked me a question. Raju, she said, after I have figured out who exactly I am; after I really and truly know IDENTITY and I have also cleared up what I want ion life: what my true INTENTIONS are, how do I traverse that journey? How do I exactly get from here to there?

Many years ago, I sat in the front row at a talk given by my friend Jim Cathcart author of the beautiful book, Acorns to Oaks. In the book, written more than two decades ago, Jim talks about how within every acorn there is a map encoded as to what size and shape of an oak tree it will grow into. I absolutely agree and believe that there is the inbuilt intention that evolves into reality through proper usage of our intelligence, imagination soaked in integrity.

However, before I get to those three enablers, here’s what Jim Cathcart was showing and telling us from the stage: He had planted himself onto a spot on the left side of the stage and said, “let us assume that this is the spot where you are at in your life. This is who you are now.” He then took five long strides towards the right side of the stage and planted himself on a spot and said, “let us assume that this where you want to be. This is who you want to be.” He walked back to spot one, turned in the direction of spot two, and said, “Every single day, every single moment start believing, behaving, saying, and doing things as if you were already on spot two. Think like the person you want to be, walk like the person you want to be, and talk like the person you want to be,” he urged us all. When you do this over a certain period, you will soon find yourself on spot two. You will become who you want to be.

I was blown away by his words. They stuck to me like superglue. I have never been able to peel the idea away. From that day on, I have walked from many a spot to another spot in my life. If my younger self from all those first spots were to see me now, he would never recognize himself.

This is not about the ‘fake it, till you make it,’ thing. This is something deeper and there is neuroscientific reasoning behind it. When you create an abstract, visual, distant dye to mold yourself into then millions of connections begin to spark off inside your head until you arrive at that ideal self in the future. This process works and it works beautifully. This is the core idea in the blog Linking IDENTITY to INTENTION.

Throughout the journey from here to there, you will need these three enablers: imagination, intelligence, and integrity.

Imagination is to make unseen connections between your thoughts, your strengths with what is visible but vague at times. Imagination to compare the processes, strategies and to learn from the experiences of others. The playground of life and work is constantly shifting. Streets get crowded and unseen hurdles come up. Stretching your mind a bit towards the unseen helps you see ahead of the curve when going from here to there.

Intelligence is to be able to place two and two together and make sure they end up as four. It is the correct and consistent assessment of actions and words we use. It is about keeping an open mind, learning, and not be dissuaded by slow days. It is about creating SMART goals and evaluating them frequently against the desired future and external influences.

Now many people who figure this out for themselves and begin to succeed with this strategy of linking IDENTITY to INTENTIONS sometimes forget to take care of others, of ethics and ecology. It is agreed that each individual is unique and the journey of each and every individual is unique yet it is a crowded, interrelated world. We, as individuals, do live in a vacuum; we are all interconnected by unseen strong and gentle strings. Pulling too hard or leaning too heavily on other systemic relations can create strain and cause harm. So think hard, maybe twice as much before taking decisions. Think far and wide, think of all interconnected relationships and play fair by universal values. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Rose, there is no other secret beyond this. This is as good as it gets. Many paradigms of success out there will drown and drain you. Keep it simple and follow this path patiently, persistently, and with a lot of faith in your own self. Persistence does not equate to hard-headedness, it equates to not how often you fall but how often you get up and get back. Yes, the discipline demands very resilient guts of steel and emotional sinew.

When you get to where you want to be, do remember to say thank you to my friend, Jim Cathcart.

Love and Leadership

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A few years ago, at a convention of the Asian Professional Speakers Singapore, the usual topic of what makes a good speaker great came up. And, as usual, words like integrity, service-orientation, professionalism, value-creation, mastery of the craft, etc. were thrown into the discussion.

Love and Leadership

Then out of nowhere a small voice, like from under the table, says “to be able to deliver a really good keynote, one must love the audience.”

And, bang, every other word that was dumped onto the table gets withdrawn back and people go, “Yeah, that’s right. We ought to love the audience, the people we talk to!” “Yep,” adds another, “when we love them then we feel comfortable with them, they feel good in our presence and the creative energy goes aflame!” “We get into the zone, into the flow,” adds the original, small voice happily, still as if coming from under the table.

Over the years, and across the thousands of times I have spoken to an audience large and small, I bring the memory of that conversation with my friends at the APSS to the desktop of my mind every time someone hands me a microphone. “Love the audience, the people Raju,” I say to myself several times over. As many times, I look up, look at the audience make eye contact and connect with someone a smile crinkles my eyes and he or she smiles back. It feels good. It softens me. It eases my spirit, caresses my ego, and, in the bargain, allays all anxiety. As I take the steps up towards the lectern or the red circle, a desire to serve, to be open, to become vulnerable engulfs me. I feel light and happy and empowered all at the same time. The neuroscientists will claim I feel loved, thus a rush of the dope, oxytocin floods my brain cells that is why I feel light, happy and empowered.

When I feel that way with the microphone in my hand on stage, my words, my voice, my gestures, my eyes, my larger bodily movements spark of the same sensations through and across everyone who can hear, see and sense me. The neuroscientists will claim that those are mirror neurons reflecting and mimicking the activities in my neural networks.

I do not care what the neuroscientists say but I am feeling good. I feel, light, happy and powerful. My people, who I love, feel light, happy, and empowered. It becomes a dance. It stays a dance of learning, co-creating, and growing.

This is not true just for people who grab a microphone, step up on stage and make the audience sway to their words. This is true for any individual who wants to serve, lead, and change the world. To connect, engage and influence our worlds we ought to truly care for our worlds, our people. The deepest of our intentions then works for the benefits and betterment of others. Call it to care, call it empathy or call it compassion, it really is love in its agape form.

Most all the time the people we want to connect, engage and influence is usually looking and sensing behind and beyond our appearances, our communication, and our behaviors. They are, usually, looking behind and beyond our skills, our abilities; they are looking at our intentions, our deepest desires towards them and their worlds. Once they hear, see and sense benevolence and good intentions then they not just simply sway with us but begin to march towards a brighter future.

You may have heard this from Mary Lou Angelou many times before and it makes for precision when it comes to public speaking and love. It makes for massive sense when it comes to leadership and love. Here it is, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Beyond your words and well-manicured behaviors, people will always see and sense what exactly is going on in the deepest parts of your heart for them. When they are convinced that what is cooking in the heart-pot of yours they will lick their lips, raise their faces up into the air, and love you back for loving them truly and loving them right.

So on this day of love and love-giving, take a moment to reflect upon what are you trying to change around you and among your networks. Are you changing it out of the true and deep love for the recipients of that change?

Reflect deeply and truly and if the answer from within you is a resounding yes then go, grab that microphone, step up on that lectern, look the ZOOM camera in the eye and state your case. When your case is loaded with love, you shall shine, you shall lead and you shall change your world.

On February 24, inspired by my book-the HeART of Public Speaking, I am running an open to the public webinar on how to connect, engage and influence your world on virtual platforms like ZOOM. Send me a message and I will send you a free invitation.

Live well, love much, and laugh often even if your voice sounds as if it is always emerging from under a table.

Do a Good, Clean Job the First Time Around

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Growing up in India in the 70s, I used to run many errands for mom. One of them was to run to a neighborhood vegetable vendor for our daily needs of chilies, mint, garlic, etc. Those were the days of no refrigerator at home and we bought fresh, ate fresh, and were, of course, total vegetarians.

This specific vegetable vendor used to display his wares from a concrete platform the size of a double bed, with no walls but with just a thatched roof for cover. There were times that I used to reach him way before he would be ready to sell from his shop with no walls. He would make me wait.

Wait I did, while he would very ceremoniously sweep, clean, wash and mop his whole shop. Wait I did, while he swept and watered the whole area surrounding his platform. He would then open his new stock delivered in freshly washed gunnysacks. Slowly, item by item, he would dunk them in water and set them up in tiny heaps for a single purchase. All the time washing, cleaning, and rinsing everything around him and his hands every so often. Wait I did, while he tied back the knots on the gunny sacks of stock and then light up some incense sticks and bless his abode and business. He would then stick the incense sticks into a potato and place it in a strategic location of his empire. Tucking his loose, white trouser bottoms under his legs, he would then, proudly, plop himself down in a lotus posture in front of his fine and fresh display. He’d put his hands together and announce that he was now open. He’d say, Namaskaram!

All this while, parts of me would wonder why doesn’t he just hand me the darn things I needed before the whole rigmarole. At the same time, parts of me would be spellbound by his rituals, his ceremonies, his discipline, and his dance of being clean, tidy and organized. Mom would insist that I buy all our needs from him rather than all the other vendors in his neck of woods. I did not understand her insistence then but years later, I did. He was not the biggest vendor, he was not the cheapest vendor on that street but his goods were always fresh, just rightly priced but his self-discipline was endearing and because of that, he, his goods and service could be trusted.

That was a long time ago. Now that people have moved on to buying fresh, buying from smaller vendors, buying closer to the source that is clean, tidy, and trusted I am wondering how popular and successful this vendor from my childhood would have been? He would not have needed all the noise, the buzz, and the big neon lights that many need. He would not have social media buzz to plug their products and services as we all do. He would have been a natural draw. His following would have been huge and totally organic.

My friend from Singapore, Philip Merry says, “Your number one (often overlooked) marketing tool-Do a good job the first time around.” That was true back in the good old days; it is true now and will be true forever into the future. When we do a good, clean, tidy, organized, value-creating job the first time around, the world does light up our brand, in neon lights, across the stratosphere.

I remembered this story and the lesson it brings forth when Patricia Aliphon spoke about how she keeps her presence on social media tidy and clean. “KonMari,” she called it. To me it sounded like Namaskaram!

It strikes me that no matter what we do and what we put out into the world, it must be clean, it must be tidy in presentation, and it must do a good job the first time and every time.

Many businesses took a beating last year. Matter of fact, all of us did. Most all of us are scrambling back onto a world that acquiesced new rules of play and the words tidy, clean, and good have become crucial parts of all conversations and conversions. We are doing the same with our offering to our market. We are not just concerned with being cheaper, better, and faster but we are disciplining ourselves towards being tidy, clean, fresh, and creating real value in real-time. And, I am betting almost all of you are on a similar journey. The little improvements we make towards our service and offering do, authentically, enhance our presence and influence on our worlds. From that tiny vegetable vendor in India to all of you across the world, Namaskaram!

P.S.

On February 18, we are running a free webinar on Authentic Influence™ for Entrepreneurs. We will be happy to have you all over to talk about how we are all bouncing back and bouncing back higher.

Here is the link: https://www.innersuninc.com/product/authentic-influence-for-entrepreneurs/

 

Or, you might want to download a FREE book on Five InSights into Success, here you go:

Gumption, Resilience and Innovation for Tough Times

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Back in April 2020, at one of my open to public webinars on Emotional Intelligence, I had more than 2000 attendees and a large number of them were public school teachers. I was happily surprised. You see we had not positioned the webinar towards the teaching community. We had wanted to fill our Zoom room with business executives and business owners. We wanted them to weather the crisis and the oncoming challenges with calm and equanimity. My assumption is that the teaching community turned up in numbers because they wanted to learn the subject since changing times would demand a lot more from them than they had been used to giving in the past.

My suspicions about that are further validated because for the last several months, from across my home, I hear a female teacher conduct online classes. I hear her speak, explain, cajole, and applaud children. She goes on full throttle for hours and hours for several days in a week talking about math, the sciences, and values. It is just amazing and mind-blowing to see her expel so much passion and energy. Hats off to her and hats off to the nobility of her passion and profession.

In Delhi, a former diplomat and his singer wife, Virendra and Veen Gupta, took to the streets and beg

an to conduct free classes for underprivileged children who have little access to electronic devices and the internet. Paper and pencils in hands scores of children walk miles to come sit and learn under a tree in India.

The COVD-19 growth curve has not flattened across the world but it has flattened. Humanity has gathered gumption, garnered the ability to be resilient, and innovate thousands of products and practices in the last six months. Online learning platforms, organic classroom and office-dividers, re-usable and biodegradable masks, and partitions have come up from across the world.  Retailers and malls have turned their stores inside out. A huge amount of business and work gets conducted in open spaces, on streets, under tents and trees.

Our spirits are indomitable. We will go on to, of course, win this war with gumption, resilience, and abilities to come up with new ideas to surge ahead. On November 21, I will be running another free webinar on how to act courageously, with tenacity, and with a focus on innovation and growth in these changing times. Hoping that though they are not business-focused, the teachers who inspire the world will join us for GRI.T². That is gumption, resilience, and innovation for tough times. In the webinar, we will skim over the philosophies but dive deep into the possibilities and practices of changing the world one innovative action at a time.

Forgiveness and Leadership

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I hear it is a good thing. I understand the world expects it of me. I also trust it heals and sets me free. Yet, I have been holding off talking about this for a decade now. I was under the impression that forgiveness was the stuff that preachers and pastors talk of. Yet, every time I helped nudge a leader back into form, back into productivity, the work that, mostly, needed to be done was for them to let go of something that was weighing them down so that they could go on to something that would heave them up. They needed to let go. They needed to forgive.

Then I must also confess that every time I, personally, wanted to reach upwards I had to let go of something that was holding me down and grounding me downwards. That something was usually a disappointment, a trauma, a grudge, a failure or even just an unqualified, irrational, hallucinated fear. And, all of these causes and ‘uncauses’ had to be managed and let go of before any and every leader could climb upwards. And, by the way, everyone has leadership potential in them and thus everyone is a leader or a leader in the making. Yes, you too.

I bear grudge to a former boss who thought that I was way too green behind my ears and treated me likewise. I bear a grudge against a business partner who sabotaged contracts because of our differences in ethnicity and backgrounds. I resent customers who take their business to others because they are blood-related and not because they serve and deliver better.

From an authentic leadership perspective, all these reasons are shallow. They are ‘uncauses’ to be holding grudges, resentment and even anger towards others. An executive within an organization and a leader in social and business circles grows, blooms and inspires others when she can overcome malice, move on to a better place and better productivity for all.

How?

Not just conceptually but in practice, in reality. Literally.

How?

First, on a piece of paper briefly describe a grudge you hold against another. Practice precision and brevity in the description. Yes, okay to be emphatically expressive but be succinct about it. Let the written paper rest. Walk away from it for a while, maybe for days. There is a good chance that when you get back to it, you will have or will begin to separate fact from mental fiction. You will become objective about the incident, the behavior and the people involved.

You see there is a fine line that divides the objective truth and the conjured up, victim perspective, truth in our minds. It is similar to the fact that rational thinking nodes and the romanticizing nodes in our brains are not very far apart. Giving our thoughts and emotions a little space and time allows them to segregate.

Second, when you recognize the difference between self-generated illusions of hurt and deliberate damage done by another then make a cognitive effort to place yourself into the shoes of that another. Think of answers to questions like:

Forgiveness and Leadership

Forgiveness and Leadership

  • What background do they hail from?
  • What kind of experiences and exposures have they lived through?
  • What are they trying to shield, protect or prevent from happening?
  • What might be their real agenda behind their behaviors and their machinations?
  • What might they be afraid of?
  • From their point of view, what might you represent for them?
  • What might you, consciously or unconsciously, have done to annoy, hurt or scare them?

Third, visualize what your issue might look, sound and feel like to an absolutely open-minded and neutral witness to your relationship. The way to go about it is to think of critical incident or an issue occurring between two of your friends and what might the opinion of a teacher, a coach or an elder be about that incident.

  • What would a teacher, coach or an elder have to say about the grudge you hold against another.
  • What would she say or do?
  • How can you emulate the words and actions of a person you consider kind, compassionate, and a clear thinker?

 

As you will yourself and as you stretch your mental and emotional muscles to go through these three steps the person and his actions that caused you ire become less and less important to you.  The clarity and heightened resolution of that anger begin to fade away. Eventually, the target of your ire begins to fade and begins to reform, rebirth in your mind as another individual, another ordinary, simple human being just like you.  You might also want to share your thoughts with a friend. You might try rehearse a conversation and a dialogue with the one you want to forgive. You need not take this up in reality. You are only taking this up to cleanse your neurological system of toxicity. Just the process lived out vicariously helps a lot.

It is a slow, steady process. It requires persistence, faith in your abilities to succeed, and a certain mental discipline. It cannot be achieved in a day. It can be achieved the same way you acquire and build a new habit, or a new muscle.  The more such forgiveness muscles you build the stronger a human being and a leader you become. Just like a good fitness regime that needs to be supported by a good diet the ability to forgive requires that you choose your thoughts, words and actions again and again. When you find yourself sinking into anger, resentful and depressive thoughts about a person or incident go for a walk, a run or a trek. Mind the choice of your words and conversations with others. The more recklessly you talk ill of others or of negative incidents the more they flourish and solidify in your own mind. We are all auto-telic. We have malleable brains and we shape them by will, thought and behavior. We become what we constantly think about. Think about being angry and upset over a past grudge and you become a depressed and angry person all across.

  • Leadership is about being aware, being agile, and grasping moments that will innovate, change things.
  • Leadership is about journeying over a distance, over to a better place-a vision of a brighter future.
  • Leadership is about including others, millions of others, and enrolling them to move forward by moving yourself.

All this can be achieved with grace and with gumption. Grace to accept and gumption to let go. A leader, all leaders need to stay light and unburdened and they need to move on ahead with deliberation and purpose.

At the end of it all. At the end of all your striving and struggling if you are unable to let go of nasty, toxic memories; if you are unable to forgive others then forgive yourself for not being able to forgive others.

Alternatively, better still, start the whole forgiving process by forgiving yourself first. Yes!

What to believe in times like these

It is true that our beliefs drive our behaviors and our behaviors drive our growth and progress in life and in our businesses.

It is hitting month EIGHT since COVID-19 turned the earth inside out. There is very little to tell you about why and how it happened or, even, what the consequences of this massive, tsunami of a disruption are because are experiencing them.

The question is what should we do get ahead of this. What should we do to progress? How do we behave and what should we believe in?

At Inner Sun, we have a belief about beliefs. We believe that beliefs are put together by three dynamisms.

The first is the dynamism that is innate, congenital, and embedded. In an individual, it is sometimes referred to as nature or personality; in a business organization, it may be referred to as “work culture”.

The second dynamism is the one that exists outside of this system and is of many forms; the way that it is often referred as the environment, the economy, or the ecology.

The third, the most vibrant, with a high potential to influence the inner and the outer dynamisms, is the dynamics of the process between the internal and external systems.  It is the process of combustion between what is and what is possible. This is where innovation and change is carved out. This is where a new life and a new world is born. The drivers of this intermediate dynamism are the first is the dynamism that is innate, congenital, and embedded. In an individual, it is sometimes referred to as nature or personality; in a business organization, it may be referred to as “work culture”.

In these blazingly vibrant and challenging times, individual and organizations need to huddle up and closely watch what is happening with our own awareness, intelligences, emotions, memories that we are accumulating, and the actions we are taking.

Organizations and individuals, in recent times, that have trusted these two beliefs have a robust potential not just to survive but also to thrive in the coming days:

Believe that there are better days ahead. Yes, those that recognize that this is one of the seasons of change in a larger sense and that spring is just ahead staying optimistic and enthused about what they do. “The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy,’ said Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Believe that we are all in this together. However, in a commercial sense, competition is good but in these challenging times, it is collaboration and compassion that are key to progress. “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful,” claimed Mother Teresa.

The higher the intensity and the quality control of these elements the better the results and the outcomes for tomorrow.

Think about this deep and hard. These things will boost your beliefs onto a better place and thus influence your behaviors towards progress and growth in these challenging times.

How to Receive Love Letters from Customers

 

No matter how much digging and deep diving we do, we end up recognizing that leaders excel when they align thought, words and action. Across the world and overtime, wars have been waged because leaders and nation said one thing and then did another. Organizations stumble and collapse because those in power think of one thing, say another and, eventually, end up doing something that was miles apart from the original thought.

When you, your organization think, say and do things in alignment with each other then people, your customers and the world begins to appreciate you and follow you. Being authentic automatically influences you world.

Recently Wegmans Food Markets, a New York based supermarket chain was chosen as one of the top 10 companies to work for by HRD, USA because for nearly 100 years now the company has been living up to its word. The word being Every Day You Get Our Best. They have a 94% approval rating and dedicated followers who promote the organic-style approach to healthier living. – so much so that they beg to Wegmans to open a franchise in their neighborhood.

The core reason for this love from their customers is that Wegmans Food Markets think of providing quality products and services to their customers. They publish and promote their desires and their plans plainly and then they follow through with the right execution over time. No punches pulled and no hidden agendas. It is a tough and noble thing to do. Yet, when as a leader, you commit and strive to think, say and do things in alignment with each other then the world around takes notice, pays you the respect you deserve, and follows you to the end of the world and to the end of time.

So every single day show up like the sun, roll up your sleeves and cultivate your world such that you leave it shining and green.

 

 

R E S P E C T, Earn it by Giving it!

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Respect is an essential currency of exchange with family, at work and with society.

The ABC’s of earning and accumulating respect are quite similar to earning and accumulating financial wealth. You can be born, or get married, or sneak into a position of power and demand respect.

On the other hand, you can honestly work your way up and become a self-made man of respect.

You can also go flat broke at it.

Several years ago, a c-level department head came to me claiming he had lost a lot of respect among his workers. He was the head of logistics, had seven managers and another 200 people working under him.

My people do not like me, engagement has dropped and work is suffering, he said.

He was new to the company, to the culture and the country. After an hour or so of probing, we uncovered the root cause. One time, he confessed, he had spoken harshly to an elderly colleague in the presence of all others. She was hurt and insulted; he had robbed her of respect. Her teammates and eventually the whole department empathized with her. In return, they too turned cold and indifferent towards him.

It has been six months, Coach Raju, what do I do? He cried in pain.

R E S P E C T

Can I go and apologize to the person? Nope, it will not help. It is a shy, relationship-oriented culture.

Can I call them all over for dinner and do some bonding? Nope, it will seem like a bribe and cause more harm.

Go the front end of your logistics department. Work with the drivers, the maintenance and the messenger boys. Treat them with courtesy, care and respect first. Be humble, remember their names and get to know them better, I offered.

He agreed and worked at it diligently. Six months later things began to look up. Slowly, he began to get into the good books of everyone. His respect balance sheet began to glow in his favor. He was getting it back because he was giving it away authentically, truly and humbly. His changed behavior began to influence the company culture. He was a happy man.

With tiny errors such as his our respect, our reputation can come crashing down like a sheet of glass. When it has to be put together, it has to be put together piece by piece, shard by shard. Sometimes, it can never be put back together.

So I use what I call the ABC’s of Respect.

What are the ABC’s of earning respect?

The A is Awareness. Become highly aware of the ambiance, the atmosphere and the accoutrements of respect around you. Watch people, appreciate diversity and understand rituals. Find your place and niche in the world. Your heightened awareness will improve your appearance in the eyes of others. And, they will return that favor to you.

The B is for your Beliefs. Do you believe the world is a lousy, unhappy and a sad place? If yes, then your behavior will follow your belief. Do you believe that it is a dog eat dog world then your behavior will bark at others. Generate an abundant mentality and your behavior will become affirmative.

The C is for Conscientious Communications. Select each letter and word as if you were picking flowers. Morph them positively. Bead them like a garland towards energizing others. My father, a tailor in India, used to say “Son, measure twice and cut once.” The same applies to communicating, think twice and speak once.

Do all this consistently, compassionately and with authenticity. Overtime you will notice that respecting others is a fruitful investment that brings you exponential returns.

Sometimes, money is called the root of all evils. Respect surely is the fruit of all that is good. Yes!

That is true and authentic power. That is how to grow and thrive

Trust by Raju Mandhyan

How to Trust and Acquire Trust

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Tony Meloto is to the Philippines what Mohammed Yunus is to Bangladesh and what Jimmy Carter is to the United States of America. They are all founders of these NGOs that support the underprivileged. Tony Meloto gave up a lucrative career to build and grow Gawad Kalinga, which means to bestow care and support. In the last 25-30 years

Trust by Raju Mandhyan

Trust and Acquire Trust

they have built millions of humble homes across the Philippines, Asia, and the world. The initiative is creative, colorful and has succeeded with flying colors. Money, support, and volunteers flood in from all walks and all parts of the world.

One day at a conference that I was hosting, I cornered Tony Meloto and asked him how he manages this incoming wealth and support. How does he screen, filter, sort, and keep the whole thing transparent and running ethically? Are you not worried about corruption, politics, or fraud?

He paused, looked at me gently, and said, “We begin with trust.” We begin by first giving it abundantly at the get-go level, at the face value of the donor and the volunteer. In return, he said, we get it back trust back in spades and shiploads. That is how the system is structured, and that is how it works and it has not failed us so far. When we grant trust to people, they rise up to our positive expectations and often surpass them.

Such is the essential nature of trust and humankind. We wish to be trusted, we wish to trust others and the exchange occurs when we lead by offering it first. The offering of trust journeys through three phases. Call them the ABCs of trust. That is it needs to journey through appearances, behaviors, and communications with others.

When we regard another human being our deepest brain, the Amygdala, and the Hippocampus sections, within seconds makes an assessment of whether we like them or not; whether we should fear them or not; whether we should trust them or not. Thus, at this appearance level take in this assessment as data to be used for an integrated analysis of whether they can be trusted or not. Refrain from passing judgment just yet. Refrain from taking any action just yet. This information is only a third of the information needed to come to a conclusion.

The second phase is that of us watching and sensing their behavior. From years of watching and dealing with people each, one of us has a storehouse of behavior matching cards and metrics by which we assess likable or dislikeable behavior. Take note of these feelings, nudges of thoughts triggered by past memories. This is valuable data. Perhaps enough to come to a conclusion and then act but exercise pragmatism and hold back from judging the book by its cover.

The third phase is that of us listening to their words, their thoughts, their ideas about work and life. Hear them out totally. Maybe their appearance and behavior might be the total opposite of what they say, claim and commit.

Now you have data gathered from three different sources, three different modalities of communications. You have data gathered from sight, sense, and sound. Each of these sources has provided fodder that is data to crunched by our three brains; the deepest brain known as the Reactive brain which processes in the most primal way. We have behavioral data to be processed by our mid, limbic brain known as the Romantic brain and then we have data, cognitive-spoken kind, to be processed by our neo-cortex known as the Reasoning brain.

When all this data is done processing by these three brains and the final analysis compliments each other then you have found congruence. Then you have found trustworthiness. Now you can move ahead, take action.

That is the neural pathway, the journey of the thing called trust. That is how we trust and that is how we begin the process of trusting. Tony Meloto and Kalinga warriors, of course, do this in an accelerated way. They do it in a way that works for them fine and fruitfully.

What does it take from us, from leaders to trust others, and let our minds journey through these three neural phases?

It takes observing people through lenses that have the least possible bias. I am not saying without any bias, I am saying with the least possible and by staying conscious of our biases. If we observed people without any bias then we would have no opinions whatsoever. Thus, watch people closely, wholly, and gently.

It takes becoming sensitive to people’s behavior. It takes noticing and understanding of why people do what they do. It takes recognizing what kind of emotions are triggered with us when we watch and sense other people and their actions. It is about awareness, sensitivity, and being intelligent about emotions.

Finally, it takes active and acute listening to take in all that is being said and also exploring and understanding parts that are, sometimes, left unsaid.

These three phases of trusting others are tied in to three things we need to do, and all of them are in alignment with the structure and processing system of our triune brains. When we gather optimum data gently and process it quietly and thoroughly our abilities to assess and trust others improve.

 

Acquiring trust, on the other hand, is the reversal of this three-phase journey. When we want others to trust us then we must offer them the correct and honest appearances and presentations of ourselves. We need to let them see us plainly and openly. Masking our appearances is going to give others the heebie-jeebies over us. We need to become conscious of our behaviors and actions in the presence of others. Raising your voice, moving frantically or even positioning yourself where there is a lack of light will make others wonder about us. Lastly, thinking well before speaking gently and succinctly about things helps others get a clearer picture of us. It helps them go through the process of integrating the data and the analysis through the three phases and with the triune brain efficiently. This when practiced with consistency builds relationship trust. We can do the same with acquiring trust in our competencies; be good at something consistently.

Building a culture of trust in other organizations is an enhanced and a multi-layered approach of this interpersonal process of giving and acquiring trust. When the process becomes clear to the leaders of any organization, they begin to live out the process. Living out the process makes it habitual and, eventually, becomes second nature to leaders. When leaders are good at giving and getting trust then the philosophy and the practice cascade across to become the culture of that organization. Trust me.

the ABC’s of Higher Impact on ZOOM

Assess and improve impact on ZOOM

COVID 19 and Community Quarantine across the world has had a major impact on how we run meetings. Up until seven weeks less than 10% of us worked from home. Last week MIT ran a survey on 25,000 executives and found that nearly 35% of them have hopped on the virtual workspace and are working from home.

After these tough times are over and I do believe that this too shall pass but working virtually and business meeting on Zoom and other platforms will become the new normal. Most all the skills and competencies that we’d learned in the past for connecting, engaging and influencing small and large audiences will have to be flipped around to fit onto laptop screen or a handheld phone.

Here are a few ABC’s of higher impact and influence on Zoom which you may find handy in these fast-changing times.

 

First, the A about you appearance:

  1. Dress and groom yourself appropriately for the kind of meeting you are going to participate in. Had the real-life, physical meeting called for business formal then, from home, wear at least business casual clothing. My preferred colors are plain with no prints and usually on the dark side.
  2. Make sure that your workspace and background looks presentable and is not too distracting. On Zoom there are features which will allow you to create virtual backgrounds like on a green screen but this sometimes chips away at the outlines of your face. So be careful and test it first.
  3. When you face the camera, make an effort to sit upright and look straight into the tiny camera most off the time. Make it also a point to fill up at least 50% of the screen real estate. Do also make sure to sit facing the light rather than having a light drop in from behind, above or below you.

 

Second, the B, about behavior:

  1. Do remember that you are on camera and the camera watches you 100% of the time mercilessly and without blinking. There’s also a good chance that the host of the meeting, if not you, maybe recording the meeting.
  2. Thus, stay focused, fresh and attentive. That means manage your movements and keep your gestures close enough to stay in the frame. Refrain from twitching, scratching, grimacing, making a face, raising your eyebrows etc. Do remember that action speaks louder than words. In this case of virtual meeting even your micro-gestures will get magnified and caught on tape and remembered forever.
  3. If it helps keep a notepad by your side to help you with your talking points and point to remember from the meeting. This will help you stay focused, structured and will subdue unnecessary non-verbal communication.

Third, the C, for communications:

  1. Our words create our worlds. Words once uttered out cannot be withdrawn, erased or deleted. My father, a tailor by profession, used to always say “measure twice, cut once.” Same is true for speaking out. Before speaking out listen thrice as much, think twice and then speak once.
  2. When you speak a few decibels louder than your usual and speak a wee bit slower than you normally do. Pause often and take longer pauses after expressing a thought or an idea.
  3. In the physical world good pausing adds drama and increases impact. In the virtual world it does all that plus it allows you to check the smiles, the nods and the responses of scores of faces on your laptop screen.

Lastly, the most important  ABC’s of higher impact and influence in virtual meeting is that for heaven’s sake sit down or stand upright calmly during a virtual meeting. One time, I was in this online meeting of speakers and trainers from across the world when one of the ladies was jogging on the streets of her hometown while talking to all of us. Though I was properly seated at home all that bouncing and jiggling of one of the little images on my screen was giving me motion sickness. It was terrible.

Anyway, I hope these ABC’s of higher impact and influence in virtual meeting help you. I also hope that we, all the people of this beautiful earth come out on top of this current crisis quickly and safely. I am sure it will be a brand new and a better world that we will be living in from here on.

 

Raju Mandhyan